The faceless man returns….

He came back again last night, in the early hours of the morning. He came back to pull me from a comfortable sleep, this time to drag me so far into the depths of my subconscious that I could not escape. I have often wondered later, after I have calmed myself from whatever hell I was dreaming of long enough to realize that I am safe, why certain dreams repeat. Many of these nightmares I have lived, some I have not. I think some of them stem from the “what  if”  or “could have”…. I am unsure. This one stems from a simple argument and turns very violent and gruesome. It did not all happen. It is as if he has the freedom to do all he threatened and carry on while I sleep and I hate him for it.

He was angry at me. He was angry about something in the kitchen. It was something the children had or had not done, and whatever it was, it was bad. He was screaming at me, pausing to wait for an answer but only really seeming to hear the “I am sorry, I am so sorry,”  over and over again. He yelled at me to “deal with it” and I immediately sprang into action, but was stopped from going to the other side of the kitchen by him standing in my way. I stopped, directly in front of him, waiting for him to let me by. He finally took a half of step to one side and I tried to slide between him and the countertop. Whether he saw an opportunity or whether he had planned it, he immediately took advantage of my nearness by lashing out at me. He smacked me in the ass, hard. I tried to move by again and he pushed me against the counter harder. I tried to turn and go the other way and he managed to catch my wrist.

I guess I knew I was in trouble long before he caught my arm. I knew the moment I had stepped into the kitchen and saw that look on his face. He was searching for a reason and all I could do was await my sentence. He jerked me around with such strength that I was forced to turn my entire body with his motion to stop it from making me want to scream out with pain. I didn’t utter a sound. Even when he pulled me back around and pushed my arm behind my back, shoving me against the counter, my arm behind my back. His face was just inches from mine, and I choked back disgust at the smell of his rancid breath dripping with the scent of Jack Daniels. “I wasn’t done talking to you,” he said, his bloodshot eyes staring down at me. I hung my head, not daring to let him think I would challenge him. I knew better. He waited for my response and when none came he grunted and released me, shoving me away from him. I stumbled, catching myself on the counter ledge to keep from falling. My clumsiness angered him and I felt him reaching for me. He again snagged me by the arm, and wrapped a hand in my hair. He hoisted me up and then slammed my face directly onto the granite counter. I felt the tears sliding down my face, mixing with the blood that was pouring from my lip but did not cry out. I refused to give him the satisfaction. I should have.

I don’t remember what happened after this, but my nightmare carried through and left me with no better outcome than I could probably imagine . He lifted me from the counter and turned me to face the window that over looked the kitchen sink. My three children were looking in at me. They were banging on the window, crying for me to help them. I can still hear their little voices, “Mommy! Mommy please!!” They were sobbing. I fought then. I reached out towards the window and tried to touch them.

“RUN! RUN! RUN!” I screamed at them to run, but they couldn’t hear me. He shoved me up and forward then, my arm and then face smashing through the window, glass flying everywhere, then pulled me back through.

“You want to go through there? You want to run?” How could his voice sound so quiet and yet so terrifying at the same time? He dropped me on the floor then and for a moment I thought I was free until I felt his weight come down on top of me. He ripped the back of my shirt open. I fought again trying to get away and he pinned both of my arms down beneath his knees. He reached out and grabbed a piece of glass directly from my vision. I froze. He laughed, his low, sick laugh.

“Please. Please don’t. I am sorry. I am sorry. I so sorry.” At first there was a pause and then he laughed again as he ran the glass straight down my back. I screamed. I felt him push deeper and I screamed again, this time standing half upright in my own bed, arms flying. I was alone. I was safe. I could still feel his weight on me, the glass scraping across my back. I did not go back to sleep.

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Closing a door to let the light shine through…

Some decisions are hard to make. Some are nearly impossible. Some require the willpower of a brick wall, which I most certainly lack when it comes to matters of the heart.  I closed a door on Friday. I closed it all of the way. I told someone that I love very much goodbye. He wasn’t even listening. It doesn’t really matter what he thinks on his end anymore, whether he even bothered to listen to my tearful message to him. I had reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I was reduced to tears on a daily basis, with him going from one extreme to the next by spouting his eternal love out to me one day and then nothing for days. My emotions were based on whatever level of friendship he had chosen for the day. I don’t think it is or was his intention to hurt me, but he did. You see, even though this has been done months ago, I still can’t shut off my heart with him holding it on a string. When I love someone, I love with all of me. I have given myself the closure that he probably wouldn’t give me this time. We said our goodbyes when he left before, only the goodbye extended out to a promise to be back soon, an “I love you so much,” or a whispered phone call. The extension is what hurt, the dim hope that he would place within my heart. After months of this, it was time to make room in my life for new beginnings, a new start. I needed to find that peace within myself by letting him go so that I could openly and honestly welcome the possibility of someone new in my life.

A new friend has found his way into my life, and even a little ways into my heart. Someone that knew me back in high school, 20 years ago. He reached out to me on a social network and recently we started to talk. We found that we had a lot in common. We found that we enjoyed talking to each other. We found that we wanted to meet and see if our interest carried beyond the bounds of endless conversation.

It was with great trepidation that I accepted his request to spend some time with me, closing the door on my past before even knowing that I would agree to the date. My self confidence rests at ground zero. I was also quite excited, with a million “what if’s” running through my mind.  There are so many things happening in my life that I don’t know if I am ready for something more substantial. But then I remembered, I remembered what it was like to be in love when that love was returned. I remembered how it felt when someone else missed me and couldn’t wait to see me just as I did them. Perhaps? Maybe I would give it a chance. So, I stepped off the cliff and took a leap of faith.

He showed up at my door, early. I took a deep breath and swung the door open only to have to look up and find myself facing a very tall, intimidating looking man who may have frightened me but for the grin on his face and the flowers in his hand. Flowers. He brought me flowers. Flowers meant to please someone that he hadn’t seen since and hadn’t even really known back in high school. All thoughts of fear tucked and ran and I gave him a hug, felt his arms tighten around me. I have no doubt he was as nervous as I. Instead of feeling fear at his embrace I felt an odd sense of safety, a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a very long time and was hardly able to identify. I was not nervous anymore. I was comfortable.

We watched a movie, sitting close to each other, talking about insubstantial things. He held my hand. He treated me with respect. He showed an interest in who I am and told me that he thought I was pretty. Still, I remained comfortable, not becoming overwhelmed with the desire to jerk away from his hand holding mine or to put distance between us. This was not me at all. I was calm, together, and at ease with a man that made me feel like a tiny little person. Instead of feeling fear, I felt safety. He stayed late into the night, watching movies, talking, pulled me close and we shared our first, second and third kiss.  When he left I actually missed him because he took that calm feeling with him. He said he wanted to see me again and I said the same. He drove away and I felt something crazy on my face.. it was a smile.

Nobody knows after one date. I know he isn’t a rebound. That part of my life has already passed by.  I know that I like him a lot. I know that I am willing to explore these feelings. I know that I am afraid that the bottom will fall out and I will learn that it was all an act. I used to think I was a good judge of character, before… well before everything else that happened.  He has continued to talk to me, tell me he missed me, has promised to come and see me soon. I am torn. I want to throw caution to the wind and give this a try. Of course, I am afraid and I know that it is too early to tell. I have felt this feeling of elation before, given my heart away, only to be left in a parking lot abandoned in tears on the ground.  But this time, with the feeling of the “hope of the new relationship” I feel a calm. I don’t even know how to explain it. Maybe it is because of the endless hours we have spent texting and talking over the last month, maybe it is just that I have made peace with the part of my past that had my heart torn into pieces.  Maybe it is because I am older and wiser and perhaps am finally ready to move on after years of rollercoaster emotions.

Whatever this is.. whatever this isn’t. Whatever it may become or whatever it doesn’t become, I am willing to step forward. It is a shaky step. Does the sense of safety that he places around me when he is near mean that I am just older and wiser and have finally learned to hold myself level? Or is it some kind of sign from above that maybe, just maybe this could be it? I would like to think both are true. However, we will see. He or I could just as easily decide that we don’t like each other so much and walk away. Perhaps it is the mystery, although honestly, I would just rather know what my future holds so I can stop second guessing myself.  If we aren’t meant to be a couple, perhaps I have found a new friend. I don’t dare trust myself at this point, and it will take him awhile to earn my trust. He has been hurt before too, so we have agreed to just take it day by day and see what happens. I am more than aware of the feelings that come with the hope of something new, so we will move on and see if those feelings stay and perhaps grow. I would like to believe in fairy tales but have become so practical that I can only hope that this man doesn’t leave me bruised or in tears.

The Faceless Man

Last night he visited me again.

He doesn’t have a face, not at first. He is big and strong. His face changes, sometimes it is one that I recognize, normally it is just dark. This time it is a dark nothing. I can smell his rancid breath, a repulsive mixture of smoke and alcohol.  He leans close to me and I can feel the heat of his breath on my cheek, he whispers quietly into my ear. He tells me how badly he wants to hurt me, how easy it will be for him to kill me this time. I can’t move. I can’t fight. I feel my tears running down my cheeks, my heart pounding in my throat. I can’t answer him, his hands are wrapped around my neck. He doesn’t squeeze hard, not right away. Through the dark face I can make out his sick, sardonic smile, one corner of his mouth tilted up in that mocking way that makes me feel so small and useless. I can make out his eyes, staring down at me. He is a man without a heart, without a soul, alcohol has made the man I knew disappear.

He squeezes a little, I feel my breath start to cut off. He laughs. I know that laugh. It is a sound that I hate. It is his laugh of joy at my fear, my pain. I will always remember that sound. He pushes down on my chest pushing the last of my breath from my body and the grips my throat tighter. My body fights, finally. I can see his anger and I stop trying, thinking that maybe it is okay to let go, maybe it is okay not to fight. But I am forgetting something, something far away….

I remember the baby. The baby. I am confused. My baby is born, my baby is now a child. I don’t understand and I try to scream. He smiles, his face becoming clear. He lets up a little and I gasp for air just to feel him tighten his grip again. The tears fill my eyes again. My baby. He is going to kill my baby. He knows my fear. He has told me so. He is going to kill “it.” He is going to “kill it while it is still inside of me and nobody will ever know.”

I fight hard now. I kick, I hit, I try to bite him. It doesn’t matter. He is too big, too strong. He holds me down. He lets me breathe and shoves my head back, protecting himself from my teeth. He hits me and I feel something crack in the side of my jaw. I taste blood in my mouth. I scratch harder.  If he kills me, he kills my son. I can’t stop him. He laughs again. He laughs at my pain, my fear.  I claw at him and he doesn’t even flinch. He just holds me there, helpless, crying, begging him to have mercy. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t move, he just watches.

He holds my throat with one hand and then puts his other on my abdomen, where our son rests in false safety. He pushes down hard with the palm of his hand. I grab his wrist and try so hard to pull his hand away from me. I cry, I beg him not to hurt the baby. I tell him I love him, I tell him I will do whatever he asks if only he won’t hurt the baby, I tell him that I will be whatever he needs, whatever he wants, that I won’t make him mad anymore. I tell him I am sorry, I am so sorry for the way I look, for who I am, I am sorry that I did something, that I did anything wrong. I beg him to forgive me. I promise him that I won’t let the baby bother him, that I will take care of it, I beg him to  forgive me for being ugly, for being horrible, for being fat and stupid and useless. He hits me hard  in the ribs and I cry out, fueling his anger. His free hand goes back to my throat again and chokes down, hard this time.

It doesn’t take long. It never takes long. His face goes dark again, his breath sounds so far away. I stop fighting. My arms are heavy, my legs useless again. I don’t understand. My baby, where is he? Just as I begin to fade away  he lets go again. My body fights when my brain has stopped caring and I gasp involuntarily for air. He smiles then. He likes the pain, the tears, all of the crying and begging. I hadn’t yet learned how to remain silent.

I hate. I hate him.  He tells me how it is my fault that he is angry. He tells me I am ugly. He tells me I am disgusting and that no man would ever want me. He tells me that nobody will ever want my terrible children. I am nothing. I am beneath him and it is my fault that he is not happy, it is my fault that he drinks. He drinks because he can’t stand being with me. I don’t fight him anymore. I don’t care anymore because I remember now that my baby is safe. My baby is okay because my baby is a child now. He grips my throat so tightly and I let him, as I watch his face go in and out of focus and then it is gone, and there is nothing but darkness.

I woke up then, last night. I grabbed at my throat and tried to pull his hands away but they weren’t there. I could still feel them on my neck, can feel them now as I relive the nightmare in my mind. My chest hurt, my heart was pounding. Even now I can still feel his closeness. I can still smell his breath. I sat in my bed knowing that I was safe, and cried like a little girl, scared, yet thankful that my baby is indeed now a child of four and he was safe as well, sleeping soundly.

I cried and cried. I longed for the arms of the one I have lost to pull me so close and make me feel safe, make me feel like I am a whole person again. I miss the way he made me feel alive, beautiful, smart and funny. He hasn’t held me in weeks and yet it is his safety that I crave. It is his voice that I long to hear, telling me it will be okay, that it was just a dream. I miss him telling me that he will keep me safe. He wouldn’t hurt me, he would never hit me or choke me. He would hold me, talk to me, make me smile through my fear. He wasn’t there.

Instead of finding comfort I sat in a dark room, feeling cold and alone. I turned on the television and watched a child’s movie. I felt abandoned and lost and I held my pillow close to me and cried until the morning brought this new day.

BACK to MAYO CLINIC

Three months have come and gone since my last trip down to Rochester. Tomorrow morning I will be headed down there again. It is a five hour trip one way (depending on traffic) and I am not looking forward to the long drive there and back in one day. It is Maddy’s turn to be my copilot this time and my mom will take over at home with the other kids. It is so much easier to travel with someone else, especially when the day gets long on the way home. Yes, it would be nice to get a hotel room and spend the night but in all honesty I can barely afford the gas to get there and back, a hotel room is just a luxury that I can’t afford right now if it can be avoided. Of course, they are talking about doing additional testing, at which point I will have to stay and I guess I will cross that bridge when I get there. I know if it comes down to staying that I can always call my mom for help and she will float me a loan until the next payday. Thank goodness for my mom that I have health insurance that is covered at Mayo. At least they recognize that I got sent there for a reason.  Keep your fingers crossed that there is nothing “changed” on my MRI and whatever else they do to me.

Tonight I printed, signed and addressed 32 copies of an introduction letter, personalized to each company, attached my resume, and sent them out to transcription companies to introduce myself and to let them know that I will be formally applying as soon as I graduate in December.  Even if they only glance through the letter it is my thought that each time they see my name the more they will remember it. As a person that is used to doing the hiring and firing, I always appreciated the little things like this. If someone took the time and incentive to send out a letter to introduce themselves I would see them as someone that really wanted or needed the job and the name would ring a bell. I just hope it helps. There are many other companies to research and approach so I will keep plugging away at it.

I honestly can’t wait to get out there and start working. I am working now, too, but I need the additional job and income. It will be nice when I don’t have to scratch money together to get a few groceries. It gets kind of old when your paycheck has run itself out and you watch your kids eat Ramen noodles more times than you would like. Don’t get me wrong, we have food and they love Ramen, but more often than not we eat as cheaply as possible. It is amazing how long you can make a few basic ingredients last when you have to. Deer hunting next week will renew our venison supply and I can be thankful that my kids love venison in several different forms because it makes a huge difference in our freezer.

I am in an interesting mood today. I can’t decide why but I have been up and down. I kind of feel like I am walking down a rocky path, and am within the guardrails, but if I miss a step anywhere along the path I will fall beneath it and end up as a “splat” on the bottom of some mountain pass. I have been very guarded with my emotions today, and have kept myself in good spirits because I do not want to get down, or depressed, or sit and cry all night when I have a long day ahead tomorrow.  I am probably just tense and tired. It was one of those days that could have gone up or down so keeping busy, as always, helped. No time to think means no time to feel sorry for myself. So now, I am going to turn on a movie that I have seen a million times and snuggle with my little man. Hopefully we will both be fast asleep before it is over and hopefully I won’t wake up tonight with one of my ridiculously annoying nightmares. Perhaps I will start writing about them, maybe they will go away.